Kimlai Yingling has always regarded food as a bridge to cultural understanding. No matter where you are, one taste, and you’re connected. So it was a natural fit to use social media to post about recipes, and to connect with a larger group about the culinary delights of Asian Cuisine.
Her perspective and presence can be found in traditional and new media – a powerful combination that is highly coveted by anyone looking to make a big impact in their field. Great buzz alone will take you only so far. You need a great infrastructure, and a willingness to act on the empowering ideas such a foundation will likely produce. This, is why Kimlai shines.
How do you feel about Social Media?
If I wasn’t so passionate about cooking, writing and producing I would definitely be a professional social media geek. I’m fascinated by what’s happening in the social space. It’s free publicity and a great way to connect with people you wouldn’t normally have access to. It is fast becoming an appropriate medium to establishing online relationships. I’ve been asked to dinner via twitter, I’ve given interviews via Google Plus, I exchange recipes with other foodies that I’ve never met in person via Facebook.
I got involved with social media pretty early on. The key to social media is to pick five or six that work for your brand. Not all platforms will fit within your target market so you have to do a bit of research, and, figure out which ones will give you the best return for the time you put in.
The two misconceptions that boggle my brain is when I hear people say that it’s such a waste of time. I don’t want to know what kind of toothpaste someone used this morning or what game they just mastered. I don’t like reading those kind of updates either and that is why I get very selective when it comes to people I friend, follow, like or put in a circle. If used correctly social media can be a great resource for businesses and brands. Knowledge is power!
The other misconception is that social media is instant. Social media: Google Plus, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, are all outlets that enable the user to create relationships over a period of time. It’s about content that people want to read, and engaging with other like minded people. The strategy of course is engaging with the right people. It all takes time though and there seems to be a misconception in the amount of time it takes to become a viable force on the various outlets. Nothing happens overnight.
The ones that work for me are Google+ (tip: join communities), Twitter (tip: tweet interesting content, retweet, share the love by promoting someone elses product-
ENGAGE ENGAGE ENGAGE) Facebook fanpage (tip: figure out what your brand is and “like” all the brands that are similar. Share content).
How do you manage to take your passion for food, particularly Asian Cuisine, and connect successfully with the right audience?
Food is universal. Everyone eats it and everyone needs it to survive. EatinAsian was born because of my passion for food and my curiosity for the Asian culture. There are so many deep rooted traditions and such a strong emphasis on family. I’ve always been curious with my mom’s Vietnamese upbringing. It fascinates me that we had such completely different experiences yet she’s my mom and we are so close.
I went back to Vietnam with her and it was such a beautiful experience. I felt like I belonged even though I had never been there before. We stayed in a banana leaf hut and our bathroom was a wooden box with a hole perched at the end of a plank in the water. Number one was super easy. Number two was impossible. Culture shock!
My mom and dad met during the war when she was 15 years old. They got married in Vietnam and when my dad was transferred to the Fort Dix army base in New Jersey, she was able to go with him. Her leaving Vietnam forced her into a major learning curve because she left her mom, dad and brothers, sisters and everything that she was ever familiar with. She didn’t speak English, she didn’t have any friends, absolutely no support and everything was literally foreign to her. She had my dad but again, a bit of a learning curve.
Many of us that are 2nd generation were raised with old traditions but in America, while some traditions make sense and are really cool to connect with others, other may not make any sense because we didn’t live it.
So to answer your question about how I connect with the right audience, there are many, many second generation kids out there who have the same curiosity and there are millions of people who aren’t Asian but love Asian food. I had the privilege of learning first hand how to make Vietnamese cuisine, and people are constantly asking me about ingredients. People want to cook it, they want to learn about it but don’t know where to start.
I will be the first to admit that I used to go into Asian markets and call my mom and give the phone to the lady at the counter so I could get what I needed since nothing was in english. I want to make that process more smooth for people that are Asian as well as for non Asians. You would be surprised how many 2nd generation Asians are in the US that have no idea how to cook an ethnic meal. I’m not just talking about Vietnamese. There are a ton of different ethnicities that fall under the Asian umbrella.
I love Chelow Kebab, Pisca Andina, Chicken Satay, Hoender Pastei, among many other dishes. What are some of your favorite food from around the world?
I love trying to new foods and would definitely consider myself an adventurous eater however there are a few things that will absolutely immobilize my stomach muscles, palate and brain. I will not eat something that is still moving. My mom and dad love balut, which is a baby duck embryo still in the egg. We used to get shipments of these feathered quackers when I was little and I still have a vivid image of my mom cracking one open and seeing the heart still beating. I’m not on board for monkey brain, pig intestines or pigs feet, either. My favorite food and not because I was raised on it but because I love the flavors is Vietnamese Cuisine. It’s super fresh and I love fish sauce and hoisin sauce. I also love southern food. There is just something super comforting about it.
How would you define success?
Every day I wake up is a successful day…I mean that literally. Success is the road I’m on. I’m constantly creating new challenges for myself and it really is a process that doesn’t ever have to end. Success is when you decide to start your journey. It’s not necessarily about accomplishing the challenge you create for yourself because all of the lessons learned experiences, relationships and memories are obtained in the journey. You can have many successes.
I also equate having a balanced life as success. Being able to make smart decisions is a Success. Being able to filter out toxic people is a success. My definition of success could be totally different than yours. It’s totally how you interpret it.
With more than 20 years in marketing and public relations, he has been an advisor and consultant to institutions of high learning and community organizations. He's done extensive work in the area of speech writing and promotional campaigns for charities and nonprofits.
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